All Due Respect

Lately it seems like an inordinate number of women around me are either pregnant or new moms. This is awesome for me, as I love babies and pregnant women. It’s possibly annoying for them, because I tend to gush, make a big deal, and I instantly become that irritating woman who wants to tell all her pregnancy and parenting stories. Sorry.

 

It hurts my heart when I hear pregnant women and new moms get down on themselves about their fitness level and their changed/changing body. Let me tell you something: your body is performing a miracle. I know it’s not a miracle in the sense that it can’t be explained by simple biology, but I don’t care about that, it’s a miracle! You are growing a beautiful life, bringing it forth into this world and nourishing it with your body. I don’t care what gym you walk into or which athlete is there, you are the baddest mother in the place.

 

I understand the struggle. When I was young I worked out at local gym and I remember watching a pregnant woman run throughout her pregnancy. When I say ran, I mean she was really moving and when I say pregnant I mean she looked ready to deliver any day, a bit like this lady. Honestly I didn’t give much thought to it at the time, but it did establish a subconscious expectation, and years later I assumed I would continue my regular workout routine throughout my pregnancy, too.   Funny thing is, I’m not her. For me, the full workout regiment didn’t feel right. If there’s ever a time women can drop any rigid standards for their appearance, please let it be while they are having and nurturing babies! One of the greatest things I have gained from my experience with pregnancy and fitness and now as the mother of a school aged child who trains as a competitive athlete, is to let go of the rigidity. It seems contradictory because training requires such consistency and discipline. However, fluidity and flexibility lead to balance.

 

One of the awesome new moms at our gym, working it out!
One of the awesome new moms at our gym, working it out!

Parenting will show you time and again what you can do with all your plans and expectations. A newborn is a quick reality check. I will admit, I was uptight about a lot of things when my son was born (I think I recorded the details of every feeding and each bit of excrement for at least a week). One thing I was not uptight about was “getting my body back” and for that I am grateful. First of all, what is getting your body back? I mean really, there’s no going back, it’s a different body. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, carrying, delivering and nurturing a child changes you. That’s a good thing. Why experience life just to remain exactly the same?  It took me a number of years after becoming a mom before fitness returned to a more prominent place in my life. When I returned to it, it felt like I was regaining a sense of my own identity partially separate from my identity as “mother.” I’m sure many women very happily don’t take a break from their training when they have kids, and that timing is a very personal thing. Either way, fitness/training/exercise should be an affirming and enjoyable part of your life, not a tool to beat yourself up- especially as a new mom.

Dad too!
Dad too!

 

Priorities will change and that’s ok because you know what? If you put your fitness on the back burner, it will come back! You have an entire lifetime to continue to pursue the fittest version of yourself, but your babies are only little for a short time. There’s never a day that I think to myself, “man, I wish I had gotten a six pack faster after my son was born.” There are plenty of days I think, “What a beautiful time in our lives, each stage has gone by so fast!” Fitness can be an incredibly rewarding part of your parenting life, enjoy where you are and give yourself the respect you deserve throughout the process.

FullSizeRender-12
It’s so cool, my little buddy lived in there.

 

Author: Elisabeth Akinwale

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • This article really hit home for me. I had my son 6 months ago, and since I found out I was pregnant I was fearing the changes my body would go through, and if I’d ever get my fitness back. The point you make about never getting my old body back, because it is a new body was good to hear for me. It’s true, there is no going back; just forward. Thank you for reminding me that this change is OK and not necessarily a bad thing. This was a great post, and a good reality check for me. Thank you!

  • As a soon to be mom (25 days!) who helped get her team to the Games this past year (though because of my pregnancy I chose to give my spot to someone else), I have been struggling lately with everything you just touched on. So, THANK YOU! I desperately needed this. I cannot wait to meet my baby girl and while I hope to “get my body back” soon it’s nice to hear that someone I look up to and admire cherished simply being a mom for a while.

  • thank you so much for posting this!! I’ve been extra emotional lately and had a mini meltdown at the box yesterday!

    I am a first time, later in life, mom. I had a c-section and I worked out every day until my delivery. I am still nursing my daughter who just turned two! the changes my body has gone through and is still going through frustrate me when I go to the box but then I think of my little one and nothing else matters.

    I am so happy you posted this, it gives me strength to continue towards my goals while reaffirming my exact thoughts, she’s only going to be little once.

    I miss so many days working out now but staying home with my little one can’t compare! One day i’ll have the time to dedicate to working out harder but until then I am cherishing every moment with this little miracle I waited my lifetime to meet, the love of my life <3

    thank you for sharing this!! <3

  • Being a guy I don’t know much the issues described by mother & world class athlete Elisabeth Ak. But I’ve read and was amazed by the Wilma Rudolph story > Gold medal 100m sprinter as a teenager in 1956, pregnant in 1958 to the dismay of her coaches, and then WON olympic gold again a second time in the 1960 Olympics less than 2 yrs after giving birth. Amoung the strongest ladies at the gym I attend is a 40 yr old mother. Is it possible that being a mother makes women stronger somehow in the long run ? Doesn’t Elisabeth usually take at least one 1st place in strength oriented events at Regions and Games ?

    • 300% right David! Before my third pregnancy, following two within 20 months, I came back stronger, leaner and fitter than ever before. Back then it was rare for a non-athlete to workout all the way through pregnancy, so I felt like I had to completely start from scratch. This time around, 7 years after the first pregnancy, I’m doing workouts that feel great, that fit into my schedule ( I work 100%) and I love my body and everything it does for me, and for my children 🙂
      It definitely helps to have a partner, who is fantastic support and understands the need I have to feel and be fit. I’m not an amateur athlete but I do want to be fit and healthy and spending time being outdoors in all kinds of weather is important also to ones state of mind. It’s also important that I set this example for my kids.

  • I had my son 6 years ago (my daughter 9) and I still haven’t got my body back. I have that little extra “tummy” and wider hips. I have been talked about in clothing stores by teenage girls saying I was “too fat” to shop in the store or “no clothes” would fit from that particular shop. I have tried the gym but with me being a full time single mum and a full time uni student I don’t find the time to even go to the gym..

    Thank you for posting this….I know I am not “fat” but sometimes when the above happens it makes you feel down..

  • Thanks for sharing. I’m 8 months pregnant with my 2nd son and have been Crossfitting throughout the entire pregnancy. I’m so looking forward to hitting the gym hard with less poundage lol. Your story was on point and so true.

  • My daughter is 16 and I’m still working on getting my pre-pregnancy body back. Life is what it is and I haven’t been where I could focus on myself much in the past 16 years but I didn’t give up on that and now that I’m back in the gym regularly, I can see the goal, it won’t be long. I am now way up the masters level ladder but it doesn’t matter as long as I stay on the ladder.

  • I shared this in Facebook and one of my older athletes told her story. I can’t thank you enough Elisabeth as you replied to her. All my athletes know how highly I regard you as an athlete, woman and role-model (I often remind myself to be the type of role model you are for me. It’s a work in process…). This particular athlete has been struggling lately, thank you for giving her a boost!

  • Wow, I love this. As a mom to be in 27 days, I’ve stayed in crossfit the whole time…some weeks were 4x, some were 1x a week! I had to learn to give myself a break and remember to be in awe that I’m making a person! 🙂 And once she’s here, I plan on heading back to the gym, and I’ll be glad to not have that internal wall ball in me…but a little sad too. I just have to remember to go slow and enjoy the journey. Great read!

  • I needed to hear this today. My son is due any day and it just so happens in the last 2 days I’ve started getting stretch marks on my stomach. I know it’s vein and selfish however it was making me a little sad and just really wishing he’d decide to come before they get worse. Thank you for putting things in perspective for me, I really needed it today.

  • Thanks for posting! My friend sent it to me for my wife. She’s struggling with body changes, light lifts and not feeling herself. She’s never been more beautiful though. Thanks again!

  • Thank you so much for writing such a brilliant and well thought out piece. I am currently pregnant with my 3rd child and am yet again beating myself up about my training regime, eating, body, etc… despite knowing very well how wonderful my babies are and how much I love being a mother! We (women!) can be so hard on ourselves so I’m very grateful to hear your encouraging and happy words. I dislike people using the word ‘back’ when referencing our bodies… I want to look forward to what my body is going to do and what it will become. Thank you!

  • Thanks for sharing. I just went through this! (My son will turn 1 in March). Love to hear other fit women’s stories of how they handle pregnancy and raising a kid.

  • This was a great thing for me to read today when I have been so discouraged that I haven’t yet been able to “get back in there”. It was easier with my first baby, working out until I delivered and right back at 6 weeks. Now, with baby #2 and a 2 year old, I’m lucky to get in the box twice a week. And then I can’t get my head in it worrying about my kids with dad the whole time. But this made me realize I really do have my whole life to get back to where I want and such little time nurturing these little humans. Thank you for this! You are amazing!

  • I always enjoy your posts! As a 59 year old I can attest that the body will change as we get older and we must embrace that. Pregnancy is a big change on the body and also must be embraced. It is hard when the body changes, for whatever reason, to adjust to the realization that we can’t do what we were able to do in the past. There’s a reason why we don’t see 70 year old Olympic athletes!!! LOL Working through the changes, that is the key ingredient, not judging oneself on past accomplishments, but still getting the workout done at whatever level we can do it. I’ve had a lifetime of running, skiing, jumping, karate, hiking and biking, now with two knee replacements, I do what I can! So don’t be so hard on yourselves, most of you are young and time is on your side!!!

  • Pingback: 01/21/2015
  • Thank you! I’m 39 and 8 months along with #3. I started crossfit about a year before getting pregnant this time around and was probably the fittest I’ve been when I got pregnant. I still have a long way to go, but continued exercise, even if scaled, has made this an easier pregnancy and I feel much better about my body (and my first two were easy). It’s a tough balancing act between taking it easier for the sake of your baby and still keeping a healthy level of fitness, staying active for the sake of your baby. My coaches and fellow athletes have been incredibly supportive and I’m excited about getting back, slowly and moderately, after i have the baby. I expect to be fitter and stronger at 40 than I ever was at 20 or 30!

  • Pingback: Newest Addition
  • This post was beautiful. It made me think of when I had my little girl. Some woman are so hard on themselves as I was when I was pregnant sayin Im big or not fit enough even after having her I struggle to lose weight and be fit again but cmon we had a baby and we made a beautiful life. Cant no one tell us otherwise. Woman rock and our bodies are heavenly!